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New countertops in a kitchen or bathroom can add value to a home and offer a face-lift to rooms looking shabby from typical wear and tear. Tile and prefabricated laminate are the most user-friendly do it yourself countertops for home installers. Granite, metal, concrete, and slate countertops are difficult to install and should be handled by professionals.
Laminate do it yourself countertops are the most cost-effective type, and offer fair durability and an attractive appearance. Prefabricated laminate, called postform, is designed for the installation of do it yourself countertops and can be purchased from most home improvement centers and kitchen suppliers. Installing postform requires the use of a saber saw, but can make a good alternative to more expensive, professionally installed counters.
Postform do it yourself countertops come with a pre-attached backsplash, plus a sheet of laminate that starts on the top of the backsplash and continues to the counter’s front edge, which is rounded. Some of these counters come with precut miters and squared ends. These types of countertops come in a variety of lengths, but if the room’s cabinets require a non-standard size, a custom order might be necessary.
There are drawbacks to laminate countertops. Many are fairly durable, but only to a point. It is possible to damage them easily with cooking utensils and kitchenware. They tend to last a shorter period of time in good condition than other choices like tile or granite. Additionally, once a large section of the laminate countertop is severely damaged, the entire section, and often the entire countertop, must be replaced.
Installing ceramic tiles is another method for do it yourself countertops. They are not only durable, but can come in many styles, shapes, and colors. While these types of countertops are installed with grout, which can be a nuisance, they are moisture and heat resistant, and generally lend themselves well to easy clean up.
Countertops of this type are permanently installed with mortar and grout, but can be inexpensive projects for home installers when compared to counters installed by professionals. Most ceramic tiles are either glazed, quarry, mosaic, or stone. It is important to choose a style, color, and material that will achieve the desired look when finished. Often, a single tile sample viewed at the home center, does not add to the homeowner’s desired overall affect. For example, very small tiles require more grout lines, and larger tiles lend themselves better to floor applications. Midsize tiles tend to be ideal for countertops. When reviewing samples, lay out several tiles together to see check the overall appearance.
While ceramic tile do it yourself countertops are more durable than laminate, they can suffer damage. The upside to this is that individual tiles and grout lines can be replaced with a minimum of effort. The tile surface can crack from wear and tear, and the grout can shift and chip, especially if installed incorrectly. Often, after several years of excellent condition, grout begins to break down, and must be replaced. And, if grout is not properly sealed, it is very easily to stain, which may require regular, high-maintenance cleaning.
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